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Can Dogs Have Tourette’s? What You Need to Know (Answered 2023)

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Can Dogs Have TourettesYou’ve noticed it – Rover’s random barking spells that seem to come from nowhere. One minute he’s snoozing on the couch, the next minute he’s letting out a sharp bark or two for no apparent reason. Has Rover caught a case of canine Tourettes? Before you go diagnosing your pooch, let’s take a closer look at what experts know so far about this perplexing condition.

While Tourette’s causes uncontrolled vocal and physical tics in humans, researchers are still trying to determine if dogs exhibit similar symptoms. What we do know is that Rover likely isn’t cursing up a storm or exhibiting complex verbal tics.

However, compulsive disorders that cause excessive barking, tail chasing, and even self-mutilation in dogs may share some similarities with Tourette’s.

Understanding these can help you support Rover through any obsessive behaviors. Though more research is needed, arming yourself with knowledge puts you in the best position to advocate for your pup.

Key Takeaways

  • Tourette’s-like symptoms in dogs include excessive barking, tail chasing, and self-mutilation.
  • Other neurological disorders like seizures, paroxysmal dyskinesia, and myoclonus cause similar tics.
  • Diagnosing and treating neurological disorders in dogs involves various methods such as bloodwork, imaging, and medication.
  • While there is no cure for these disorders, proper care and support can greatly improve a dog’s quality of life.

What is Tourette’s Syndrome in Humans?

What is Tourette’s Syndrome in Humans
Tourette’s is that thing where folks have tics they can’t control. It’s a neurological disorder caused by changes in the brain that affect a person’s ability to control their vocal cords and body movements.

People with Tourette’s make sudden, rapid, repetitive movements or sounds called tics. These include motor tics like blinking, shrugging, or jumping, and vocal tics like grunting, throat clearing, or blurting out words.

While there’s no cure, treatment like therapy and medication can help manage the tics and improve quality of life.

Can Dogs Have Tourette’s Syndrome?

Can Dogs Have Tourette’s Syndrome
You’d swear your pooch has Tourette’s with all that yappin’ and snipin’ they do, but it’s likely just some wires crossed up in their noggin’ causing those funny fits. The truth is, Fido can’t be diagnosed with Tourette’s – there’s no solid proof dogs suffer from the real disorder characterized by uncontrolled vocal and movement outbursts triggered by who-knows-what.

But you can help reduce doggie tics and Tourette’s-like symptoms by figuring out what movements or situations precede the outbursts. Masking those triggers or using home remedies like CBD oil might provide some relief.

While canine Tourette’s remains unconfirmed, understanding your pup’s condition and showing patience will help give your barking buddy the best life possible.

Similar Symptoms in Dogs

Similar Symptoms in Dogs
Tics and involuntary movements in dogs may resemble Tourette’s syndrome. Excessive barking, tail chasing, and self-mutilation are common symptoms you may notice in your pet. These repetitive behaviors likely stem from an underlying neurological issue, so consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Excessive Barking

You’re constantly barking uncontrollably. This excessively vocal behavior may stem from separation anxiety, lack of exercise, or even neurological issues like canine ADHD. Consistent training with positive reinforcement can help curb the barking. Providing adequate physical and mental stimulation is also key.

If the underlying cause is anxiety, try calming supplements or pheromones. But excessive barking warrants a vet visit to identify any medical factors contributing to the behavior.

Tail Chasing

Chasing your tail like crazy? It’s no laughing matter, pal. Talk to your vet in case it’s more than just playtime. Excessive tail chewing or spinning could point to ADHD, prey drive, noise phobia, or involuntary spasms.

Don’t brush it off as a funny quirk. With care and training, you can curb compulsions and live an enriched life.


Ya keep tearing at your skin like that, we’ll get ya some help.

  1. Biting nails
  2. Excessive grooming
  3. Skin infections

Some dogs end up causing self-harm through excessive, anxious grooming. This dysfunctional behavior can lead to wound licking, fur pulling, even skin infections if left unchecked. But with compassion and training, these compulsions can be reduced. You’re a good doggo – we’ll figure this out together.

Other Neurological Disorders in Dogs

Other Neurological Disorders in Dogs
You’re probably familiar with conditions like epilepsy and seizures in dogs, but did you know there are several other neurological disorders that can cause similar symptoms? For instance, Labradors are prone to paroxysmal dyskinesia, which triggers tremors and the inability to walk normally.

Myoclonus can also cause muscle jerks that resemble tics or Tourette’s. Furthermore, neurological damage from canine distemper virus is linked to tic-like head movements. Compulsive behaviors like excessive tail chasing and air biting may reflect communication issues or dysfunctional behaviors.

Recognizing the differences between these disorders is key to getting your dog proper treatment and care.

Paroxysmal Dyskinesia

You ever seen that sudden trembling and lack of coordination in your Lab, like they can’t walk right? It could be paroxysmal dyskinesia causing those intense muscle jerks that mimic Tourette’s, yet vets know it mainly affects Labs.

Makes you wonder – could this explain your pup’s ticks that frighten you so? We’ll get your furry friend the care they deserve.


Myoclonus causes your pup to have involuntary muscle jerks that can resemble Tourette’s. The rapid twitching occurs randomly and may increase with excitement or stress. While uncomfortable, myoclonus is manageable.

Consult your vet about medication adjustments and lifestyle changes to find the right treatment plan.

Canine Distemper

Like a storm suddenly striking the calm, distemper virus can cause tic-like behaviors in dogs as another tragic possibility among the mysteries of canine neurology.

  • Rapid onset of symptoms
  • Neurological damage
  • Muscle tremors
  • Inability to walk

Distemper, a viral disease, attacks the nervous system. Symptoms resemble Tourette’s but require urgent veterinary care for treatment. Though devastating, with proper medical and behavioral support, dogs can recover and lead full lives.

Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD)

You’re probably familiar with dogs who chase their tails or bite the air – those are signs of canine compulsive disorder. This condition causes disrupted dopamine regulation, leading to impulsive behaviors.

Through genetic testing and veterinary support to manage triggers, we can help dogs cope. An animal behaviorist teaches healthy habits, but there’s no cure yet. With compassion, we can manage this condition.

Canine Dysfunctional Behavior (CDB)

You’ve got a pup with communication issues if he’s tail-chasing or air-biting as dysfunctional behaviors. Say your lab Lucky starts chasing shadows and nipping at the air for no reason – it could be a sign he’s trying to tell you something’s wrong but can’t get his point across properly.

Getting to the root of his communication problems through training and care can help curb those obsessive ticks.

How is Tourette’s Syndrome Diagnosed in Dogs?

How is Tourette’s Syndrome Diagnosed in Dogs
You’d get your dog properly examined by a veterinarian to diagnose canine Tourette’s Syndrome. They’d check for other conditions with similar symptoms and run tests to pinpoint the cause of the tics or vocalizations.

Some tests your vet may run include:

  1. Blood work to check hormone levels and rule out conditions like thyroid disorders.
  2. Imaging like MRI or CT scan to look at the dog’s brain.
  3. Spinal tap to analyze cerebrospinal fluid.
  4. Evaluating reactions to medication adjustments and dietary changes like a gluten-free diet.

Environmental factors can also influence behaviors, so your vet may suggest altering triggers through training techniques, therapy options, and lifestyle changes. While there’s no cure for canine Tourette’s, the right treatment plan can help minimize symptoms and allow your dog to live a happy, healthy life.

Treatment Options for Dogs With Tourette’s Syndrome

Treatment Options for Dogs With Tourette’s Syndrome
There are several treatment options available to help manage your dog’s Tourette’s symptoms.

Treatment Description Examples
Behavioral therapy Training to reduce problematic behaviors Desensitization, redirection
Environmental changes Adjusting surroundings to avoid triggers Consistent routines, reducing noise
Medication Veterinary prescribed drugs to control symptoms Anticonvulsants, sedatives, antipsychotics

With veterinary guidance, you can find the right combination of behavioral therapy, environmental changes, and medication management to improve your dog’s quality of life. While there’s no cure, dogs with Tourette’s can still lead happy and fulfilling lives with the proper care and support.

Managing and Supporting Dogs With Tourette’s-like Behaviors

Managing and Supporting Dogs With Tourette’s-like Behaviors
You can support a pup with Tourette’s-like behaviors by being patient, keeping routines, and working closely with your vet, ’cause a dog with ticks ain’t sick.

Here are 4 tips to help your pup:

  1. Consider sensory therapy like weighted blankets or music to soothe your dog.
  2. Provide outdoor enrichment with new sights and smells.
  3. Explore alternative medicine options like acupuncture or CBD under veterinary guidance.
  4. Ask about supplements to help manage symptoms alongside medication.

Modifying routines to avoid triggers and remaining calm and consistent will promote your dog’s overall health and quality of life. Reward good behavior and be understanding when tics occur – your pup can’t help it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are certain dog breeds more prone to developing Tourette’s-like symptoms?

There’s no conclusive research linking certain breeds to canine Tourette’s. However, given similarities to human Tourette’s, herding dogs like Collies may be predisposed due to their excitable natures.

Still, any breed could develop symptoms, so focus on providing a loving home regardless of tics.

Can Tourette’s in dogs be triggered by environmental factors like stress or anxiety?

Yes, stress and anxiety can absolutely trigger tic-like symptoms in dogs, just as in people with Tourette’s. Managing their environment to minimize stressors and giving them plenty of love and positive reinforcement is key to keeping them calm and reducing tic frequency.

Is Tourette’s in dogs a lifelong condition or do the symptoms come and go?

There’s still much we don’t know. Tourette’s symptoms in dogs often fluctuate, with periods of remission. Though lifelong, their condition is manageable. With patience and care, you can support your pup through the ups and downs.

How is Tourette’s distinguished from normal dog behaviors like tail wagging or barking?

Tourette’s involves repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations. Normal dog behaviors, such as tail wagging and barking, are typically intentional responses to stimuli. The compulsive nature and lack of control distinguish Tourette’s syndrome from regular canine mannerisms.

Evaluating frequency, triggering factors, and disruption to daily activities can help differentiate a disorder from normal behavior.

What are some at-home methods to help manage Tourette’s symptoms in dogs?

Try relaxation techniques like massage, acupuncture, or CBD oil. Create a calm environment by limiting stimuli. Distract with chew toys. Train cues to interrupt behaviors. Practice obedience to build confidence.


You’re not alone. Many dogs exhibit Tourette’s-like symptoms, but that doesn’t mean they can’t live full, happy lives. Focus on identifying triggers, adjusting routines, and working with your vet to find the right treatment plan.

With compassion and support, your pup can thrive despite the challenges of canine Tourette’s. The key is never giving up – just like humans, dogs with Tourette’s need patience, love, and an owner who believes in them.

Don’t lose hope. Your loyal companion needs you now more than ever. This too shall pass.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is an author and software engineer from the United States, I and a group of experts made this blog with the aim of answering all the unanswered questions to help as many people as possible.